Edwin Lombard retires after 49-year public service career | Courts

Edwin Lombard is a 12-year-old boy who grew up in Algiers and was nicknamed “Porky”.

It was 1959 and Lombard was a young friend of Blaine Khan, a parade maker with a float den by Algiers’ Black Playground. Lombard attended All Saints School, where Khan held the Spring Festival.

“My father put Ed on a canoe float as an Indian chief,” said Khan’s son, Barry Khan. “His buddy didn’t know Pocahontas was a princess. They’re down Newton Street and his buddy says, ‘This is my best friend Porky, Big Chief Pocahontas!

Lombard, 76, still hears it today.

“Some called me Porky. Some in Algiers called me ‘Hontas,'” Lombard said. “Some people in the neighborhood still use the second half.”

The nickname stuck, and Mr. Lombard also resigned from his elected office this week. It’s been 49 years since he became the first black man in New Orleans to vote for a citywide post in over a century. He was also the South’s first black electoral official.

When Lombard was 27, he won the election for Clerk of the Criminal District Court. This job also required him to participate in local elections. He held the position for his 29 years before moving to the state court of appeals bench, where he served for 20 years.

Sitting in an empty room in the French Quarter last week, Lombard flipped through old photographs of himself with civil rights leaders from the 1960s, recalling his formidable entry into social activism and his unexpected foray into politics. I was.

The year after Lombard got his moniker, his brother Rudy Lombard and four others were arrested for staging a sit-in at the Whites counter of McCrory’s Five and Dimes on Canal Street. The U.S. Supreme Court later dismissed the case, calling it de facto racism.

Attending Xavier Prep before turning to an all-girls school in 1970, Lombard fell into a group that included her younger brother, civil rights attorney Loris Edward Erie, and activist Oretha Castle-Haley. He calls himself a “beneficiary” of their work.

As a student at Tulane University, Lombard joined the Algiers Fisher Community Organization and established a clinic and dental practice around a public housing project.

“No one paid any attention to us, so we decided to do a voter registration drive at Fisher (public estate) and we stepped up our rolls a lot and got some merchandise right away. and services,” Lombard said.

Ellie then put him to work under a grant to get votes in Uptown’s 4th Ward. The 1967 voting campaign helped drive the political fortunes of Ernest “Dutch” Morial, who was elected that year as Louisiana’s first black state representative since Reconstruction. For his part, Lombard considered a career in law rather than politics.

“I’m a great liberal sociology major at Tulane University where every hipster and every person is going to change the world,” he said. “When I entered law school, politics was on the back of my mind. I thought I was going to be like Black Morris Bart or something.

He said former mayor Moon Landrieu has other plans.

At age 21, Lombard registered to vote, urged by a local attorney who paid a $25 fee, and soon entered a losing battle for the parish’s Democratic Executive Committee.

“I’ve only been a registered voter for five minutes and now I’m a candidate,” he said. “I was the first person to vote when I got on the greyhound bus coming home from school and went to the polling place.”

After attending law school at Southern University for a year, Lombard asked Landrieu, then a city councilor who was aspiring mayor, for a job.

“I was a little worker bee. He hired me to clean up[the campaign’s]headquarters, and the rest is history,” Lombard said.

By then, “I know quite a few people,” he said.

After graduating from Loyola Law School, Lombard took a job as an assistant attorney in the city, but Landrieu insisted that he run for barrister.

“We were doing something in D.C. We got a call from Moon’s office saying, ‘Catch the smoking first, then go back to New Orleans,'” Lombard said. I told him to submit the candidate documents.

“There were a lot of black people there,” he said. “I’m the only one who survived.”

While in office, Lombard traveled to Bosnia, South Africa, and Indonesia, where he was sent by the Carter Center to help monitor and plan elections. He was in his mid-50s when he left.

“I stayed too long. I didn’t mean to continue for 29 years,” he said. “I was obsessed with the idea of ​​doing a good job and making sure the people behind me had the blueprint for that.”

Lombard won a seat on the Court of Appeals in 2002, defeating Civil District Judge Sidney Cates by 43 of 113,000 votes.

Among the highlights of his more than two decades on the bench, he cited an incident that convinced colleagues that running away from police was not a likely reason for arrest. He also noted that he was specially appointed to the Louisiana Supreme Court to consider the disciplinary action of Timothy Elender. Elender was attending a Halloween party in a prison jumpsuit, handcuffs, and an afro wig.

“Those who write off Judge Elender’s error of judgment as a harmless prank requiring token sanctions are a poignant reminder of how deeply such acts reverberate throughout the African-American community and a not-so-distant past. I don’t understand what it is,” writes Lombard. Agree to Elender’s suspension and racial sensitivity training.

Fourth Circuit Chief Justice Terry Love praised Lombard’s “common sense approach to everything and his knowledge of history.”

Lombard maintained a lifelong bond with Kern, participating in fishing trips and low-cost poker games inside the caves of the Crew of Ara, which Blaine Khan had captained for half a century. Describing Lombard as a “perfect optimist,” the resigning judge said prospects were being tested.

“We have stepped back. I think the situation in our neighborhoods and communities is deplorable,” Lombard said. “Looking around here, 40% to 50% voter turnout in elections, this is really bad. And we got what we got: an education where the majority of students are failing system.

Lombard said he was getting old and unemployed, but he was ready to retire as well. Told.

“At some point you find yourself half a step slower,” he said. “Enjoy the rose and try to smell it.”

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